Approaches To Social Research Media
This research paper is motivated by the invigorated universal interest in nuclear power. This interest was created due to the rapid rise of volatile fossil fuel prices and due to the concern of climate change (Font 2008). Attitudes towards nuclear energy issues, pose essential questions in the political dispute questioning the way future energy needs will be achieved (Font 2008). Up until the 1st Oil Crisis in 1973 and with the initiation of the Peaceful Uses of Aton (Lee 2002), the nuclear energy turned over to be the most affirming alternative energy to oil. Nuclear energy was seen as the energy of the future, essentially since it does not generate green house gas emissions and it is thus considered to play a vital role in supplying universal requests for electricity (Font, Rudisill and Mossialos 2008). Energy security issues have climb up the worldwide political agenda throughout the last years. Nevertheless, nuclear power is conceivably the most controversial of all means of electricity generation, creating strong disputes for and against (Kessidis 2008).
By the enforcement in 2005 of the Kyoto protocol, which called for the decrease Green House Gas (GHG) emission, so as to avert additional climate change for sustainable expansion, there is an agreement among some industrialized countries to limit their GHG emissions (Elliot 2004). With the arising worldwide consent on the harmful implications the GHG emissions has in health and on the environment, nuclear energy issues have entered to the political debate. The aim of the states, to focus on sustainability, comes with the question on where this environmental clean energy could be found. Nuclear energy can generate large scales of electric power, making it a unique alternative source of energy that can satisfy green house gas emission concerns and in the same time can be economically practicable (Lee 2002).
Given that nuclear energy is controversial and creates strong disputes among scientists, politicians the media and the public, an explicit understanding and knowledge on the issue is essential. The powerlessness to determine, whether nuclear energy has negative or positive impacts on the environment, could be, to some degree, due to the fact of conceptual and scientific ambiguity. Because public opinion is considered crucial for a political campaign to construct nuclear power plants, this is the reason why the media play an essential role in influencing and controlling decision making procedures (Adamantiades and Kessides 2009).
The controversy of nuclear energy and radioactive waste issues, has influenced the mediaï¿½s motivation to put climate change on their agendas. Since the media have the ability to release information and enlighten the public, they can transform, control or even manipulate the way the public reacts. Because the media play an essential part in todayï¿½s society, it is vital to see how they represent nuclear energy issues and to analyze how the public seems to respond.
In addition as Watson and Scott argue (2009), the power of knowledge about radioactive waste relies upon beliefs about the costs of nuclear energy use. They add by saying that ï¿½perceptions of being informed about radioactive waste and trust in sources providing information about radioactive waste management also predicts attitudes toward nuclear power generationï¿½ (Watson and Scott 2009). Beck on the other hand is highlighting the significance of a well-informed public as it will raise demands for political possess (Beck 1986: 195). In other words, by analyzing how some newspapers (in this case: The Daily mail and Guardian) represent the nuclear energy issue, we can better construct on an argument about how different perceptions and beliefs are transformed. The media further than being the publicï¿½s basis of knowledge and besides being the place of definition fights, they have to also expose polluting industries.
Publicï¿½s intense disagreement to nuclear energy started in the early 1970. The 1976 accident in the Three Mile Island and the Chernobyl explosion happened in 1986, where the main reasons of these passionate oppositions (Lovelock 2006). After the occurrence of these two accidents, publicï¿½s perception had changed quite negatively in many western industrialized states due to probable increscent and health risks (Adamantiades and Kessides 2009: 5151). In the same period the anti-nuclear movement was aroused and any new orders for nuclear power reactors were cancelled (ibid.) Though, as the remembrance of the Three Mile and Chernobyl accidents faded away and the need to diminish green house emissions come to the front of public fear, opinions about nuclear energy have progressively altered (Lee 2007).
Although various environmental supporters have raised their voice in favor of nuclear energy to prevent global warming and decrease green house gas emissions, still the opposition is tough and estimated to continue (Lovelock 2006 cited in Adamantiades and Kessides 2009). Nuclear energy related risks overcome the individual level of risk and becomes a collective fear. The character of nuclear-power-related risks being shared instead of being individual represents an important feature implicated in evaluating this form of risk. As Frank (1989) states, individualsï¿½ views of nuclear power production may be altered by the thought that nuclear energy affects negatively the welfare of others and probably the welfare of future generations. In the case where individuals consider that risk expands further from them, to contain family members and people of their bigger social circle, they may show more anxiety and distress about the event taking place. Nuclear energy issues are becoming subjects of discussion amid the public, due to the possible ecological impact and the shared character of risks attached (Frank 1989). Though, such common decisions are mainly affected by incomplete individual understanding, experience, and knowledge about probable impacts.
Based to the recognized cognitive bias which people tend to overvalue the risks of low-possibility, high-damage events (Slovic 1977, Kunreuther and Slovic 1978), it is estimated that individuals are overestimating the risks of nuclear energy proliferation. However, the growth of political beliefs such as environmentalism, maintaining awareness about the environmental costs of nuclear power generation, supports that political and media connection direct attitudes. Consequently, beliefs become more of a media representation, instead a result of a reasoning procedure.
Thus, researches of journalists' approaches, media coverage of nuclear power generation, and public ability to understand journalists' views, indicates firstly that journalists' principles affect their coverage of nuclear power generation and that media coverage of the issue is to some extent responsible for public misperceptions (Rothman and Lichter 1987). Consequently, this dissertation is essential since it will try to theoretically and empirically explore the ways in which the media in the UK represent nuclear energy issues, whether they are responsible of managing public opinion and what are the aims and consequences of their representation.
An additional intention of this dissertation is to scrutinize whether attitudes about the consequences of nuclear energy use, mediate the determinative role of knowledge on support for nuclear energy. The dissertation will finally underline the complication that characterizes the vague idea of the range of energy security. To conclude, this dissertation tries to explore the highlighting motives and to illustrate how nuclear energy issues have gained so much public fame, by specifically looking at the climate change coverage in the UK media news agenda (Lund 2007).
Part 2: Aims and Objectives
The research in this proposal sets out to determine in what ways the media in the UK represent nuclear energy issues and how this representation has evolved through time, not only to the broad sheet newspapers but also the tabloids.
Article name: Approaches To Social Research Media essay, research paper, dissertation